This morning, I was determined to attend a panel that sounded interesting, partly from the topic but also partly from the panelists were known to be entertaining. Because I have the attention span of a gnat, I decided to crack open the laptop and shoot off a blog post about the first full day about WorldCon 75 when my laptop decided that very important updates were needed. Hence, I missed the panel.
Or that’s what I tell myself. Publically, I’m blaming Microsoft for their lack of foresight and ruining what I expected to be a wonderful experience, but privately I’m sitting in an empty hallway largely avoiding people. I’ve done this before. I have no illusions that this will happen again. I have no doubt that amongst several thousand people who I know share similar interests and fandoms that I still feel quite alone.
The problem with this is cumulative. I’ve missed the first panel and now it puts my whole day in jeopardy. My mind is building excuses for skipping out on things, for not being present, for even lying to myself about why I’m not more fully present at the convention. The danger here is post-convention where the full expenses of the trip will be known and the potential shame spiral of “you spent all that money to sit in a hotel room, why did you even bother”. I tell myself that my stomach gurgling is the breakfast sausages and not the anxiety triggered nerves.
Today will not be a total loss. At some point, I will likely get swept up in the wake of a friend who will have plans, and those plans will become my plans. We’ll laugh and talk and things will be fine. For the moment, anyway. Tomorrow starts the whole thing over again.
I don’t have a strategy to combat these feelings. I’ve tried to talk to some well-meaning people about this and their solution is always framed as a binary choice. Do or do not (Fuck you, Yoda). Reframing the choice in my mind where the positives outweigh the negatives takes energy, mindfulness and a bit of training. Currently, each of these choices are weighed on a scale where the positive is “you will have fun” against a litany of other reasons: you may not like it, what about your stomach, what else might you miss, why haven’t your friends said hello, what about later, what about when you get home, what will you tell other people, etc.
I won’t share with you how easy it was to create that little list.
Like I said, I don’t have a magic salve to fix the problem. This post is part catharsis, part self-remedy. Maybe it will generate interest from friends who will offer comfort. Maybe not. But what I can say is that if you have friends at the convention, make plans with them. Each day, try to have a meal with someone you know. Even if you don’t know them terribly well, make a plan for a panel, or a meal, or a drink. Something. It will help you figure out that you’re not alone. It will remind you that people care. It will be just the thing you need.